A substantial number of recent articles are commenting on the possible resurgence of a condition referred to as toilet seat dermatitis. It can be quite common in countries in the developing world, but is not seen very often in developed countries. The condition is a dermatitis characterized by skin irritation around the buttocks and the upper thighs. It may require treatment and if the treatment is not carried out properly, the condition may linger and result in painful and itchy disruptions to the skin.
There appear to be a couple of possible causes of toilet seat dermatitis. Originally described approximately 80 years ago, the varnish and paint that were used on wooden toilet seats were thought to be the culprit. Today, the causes may be similar. As the threat of drug-resistant microbes continues to make headlines, household cleaning is taken very seriously. Consequently, the strong or harsh chemicals used for cleaning plastic toilet seats today may play a role similar to that of the paint and varnish on the toilet seats early last century.
Another possibility may be the growing interest in toilet seats made from exotic woods. While extremely attractive, they may result in some of the same wooden seat issues that were common in the 1920s. The oils in the wood and/or the harsh chemicals used for cleaning may result in dermatitis for sensitive individuals.
Throughout the media, several recommendations are commonly made for sensitive individuals who develop dermatitis. These include:
1. Using paper toilet seat covers when using a public restroom, including those in schools and hospitals.
2. Replacing wooden toilet seats with plastic toilet seats.
3. Avoiding harsh chemicals when cleaning areas that come into contact with human skin. Several articles mentioned this as an opportunity to try some of the more environmentally friendly formulations, often known as green cleaners.